Food and Farming

Our Mission is to support the revitalization of a sustainable local food system in Western North Carolina while preserving our mountain farm heritage.

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) was awarded $120,000 over three years to expand farmers' direct sales by connecting farmers' markets to consumer demand for healthy eating. Photo courtesy of ASAP.

Supporting the Local Food System and Addressing Food Insecurity

According to Feeding America, one in eight people (one in six children) in the United States is food insecure, and WNC’s food insecurity problems run even deeper where nearly one in four children is food insecure. Although federal Food and Nutrition Services provides some relief, people who are food insecure are still unlikely to qualify for assistance. That leaves too many struggling to keep themselves and their families fed and healthy.

Closely related to food insecurity is the challenge WNC faces to preserve farmland and thereby to ensure locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and other food products for the region. As farmland in WNC becomes difficult or impossible for true farmers to access, the result is a loss of rural, agricultural heritage and the associated local and regional farm economy.

“In WNC, one in four children are food insecure. But there are pockets where as many as four in five kids don’t have enough healthy food to eat.”

— Amy Sims, Western Zone Coordinator and Agency Relations Manager, MANNA FoodBank

Toe River Aggregation Center Training Organization Regional Inc. (TRACTOR) was awarded $43,284 to expand the capacity of its multi-farm CSA program to reach a wider base of farmers and provide the community with greater access to local food. The expansion will engage farmers in Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, and McDowell counties. Photo courtesy of TRACTOR.

How We are Making a Difference

Goals and Objectives

We aim to increase opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs that support the sustainability and profitability of WNC farms and address food insecurity and facilitate nutrition and healthy eating for all.

We will make grants to:

  1. bolster marketing efforts for local foods including branding, post-harvest aggregation, distribution and value added facilities;
  2. support new or transitioning farmers with technical assistance in production and marketing, business training and access to land;
  3. increase access to fresh local foods for all, especially low income families, and
  4. build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to address these goals.

Photo courtesy of Organic Growers School.

Double Up Food Bucks Feeds Families and Supports Economies

MountainWise works in the eight westernmost counties of North Carolina to provide opportunities for physical activity, access to local fresh fruits and vegetables, provide support for tobacco-free places and access to services for chronic-disease management. MountainWise was awarded $50,000 to support the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program in Buncombe, Jackson, Haywood, Transylvania, Mitchell, Yancey, and Henderson Counties. DUFB is a national proven model, supported by the Fair Food Network and largely funded by the USDA, that provides a $1:$1 match for SNAP/EBT customers to spend on fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. CFWNC funds will support staff necessary to carry out the proposed project to its full potential.

Implementation of DUFB greatly increases SNAP participants’ spending power, increases access to fruits and vegetables, generates more income for farmers and small food retailers, invests in the local economy, and strengthens the local food system. The goal is to serve at least 1,000 SNAP recipients through participating retailers and farmers markers and provide up to $60,000 in matching dollars - money that customers can spend on fruits and vegetables alone. This significant increase in buying power will draw low-income customers who experience barriers to shopping at farmers markets and provide financial assistance in shopping in small retail stores or online markets. This opportunity will increase the health and well-being of families receiving SNAP benefits and the communities as a whole by
alleviating economic strain among low income residents.

To learn more about our Food and Farming focus area, contact Philip Belcher, Vice President for Programs, at 828-367-9901.